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Broome County Health Department looks ahead to fall as students return to campus

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(WBNG) -- With thousands of students returning to campus in just a couple months, the Broome County Health Department is preparing for the population to increase amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Binghamton University estimates there were a little more than 19,000 students during the 2019-2020 school year. Some of those students will be coming from out-of-state, or even outside the country.

"We have a contact tracing team that we continue to add more members to so that when we know we have cases who potentially have more contacts, we're able to keep up. That's definitely part of preparing," said Broome County Health Department Director Rebecca Kaufman.

Officials say they're working with schools like Binghamton University and SUNY Broome to create a plan that works for schools and the county.

"I know [Binghamton University] intends to bring students back in over the course of a week," said Kaufman. "We won't see the influx all in one day. They have a pretty good plan they've revealed that involves testing and isolating anyone they need to."

Binghamton University is also home to a New York State COVID-19 testing location. County health officials say they're unsure how long that site could be around, but they say they would like to see it stay.

"We do hope it stays because with the fall, reopening, people getting together, we'd like to have the ability to have as much testing as possible here in the county," said Kaufman.

However, when students do return, the health department says they'll continue to encourage everyone to keep practicing good hygiene and more.

"Wearing your mask, hand washing, trying not to touch your face, all of those things, staying socially distant, all of the things that are keeping us having low numbers now, we hope to continue in the fall," said Kaufman.

Katie Jones

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